Team news: Hill set for Forest bow
All the team news ahead of the weekend's Championship fixtures with Clint Hill in line to make his Nottingham Forest debut in Saturday's late kick-off at Watford.
Saturday September 24 (all kick-off at 15:00 unless otherwise stated)
Birmingham City v Barnsley
Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic is again likely to play a substitute's role against Barnsley as he steps up his return from long-term injury. Zigic made his first appearance of the season after groin surgery as he stepped off the bench for the final 25 minutes of Wednesday's Carling Cup defeat at Manchester City. The Serbia international is unlikely to start against the Tykes but is certain to be introduced again. Midfielder Keith Fahey got 67 minutes under his belt in the 2-0 defeat as he also made his return from a groin injury, and the Irishman stands a chance of starting once again this weekend. Striker Chris Wood and midfielder Wade Elliott return into contention having been ineligible for the cup clash. And that provides manager Chris Hughton with a plethora of options having rotated his ranks in midweek and made seven changes, with the likes of Boaz Myhill, Steven Caldwell and Marlon King pushing to return.
Barnsley's squad is still affected by illness with defender Stephen Foster among those who could be struggling to be fit for the game at St Andrew's. Tykes manager Keith Hill was reluctant to specify which of his players had not been feeling well, but Foster missed training on Thursday. Striker Ricardo Vaz Te, fit again following a thigh muscle tear, and midfielder Nathan Doyle (groin) both stepped off the substitutes' bench last week and will be hoping to play a bigger part. Winger Matt Done (hamstring) remains doubtful while summer signing Craig Davies (groin), teenager Reuben Noble-Lazarus, defender Miles Addison (both ankle) and midfielder Goran Lovre (knee) all remain sidelined.
Bristol City v Hull City
Bristol City manager Keith Millen has hinted at a change of tack, both in personnel and shape, for the match against Hull. Millen has been concerned at the soft goals his team have been conceding of late, and is contemplating recalling captain Louis Carey - who has yet to start a first-team fixture this term. With Jamie McAllister (ankle) still sidelined - and likely to remain so for several weeks to come - and Liam Fontaine (ankle) not expected back in training until October, Millen said he could tinker with his back four.
Hull are expected to be unchanged at Ashton Gate as they chase a fourth straight league win. Manager Nigel Pearson has no new injury or suspension problems and is unlikely to alter a winning line-up following three successive 1-0 victories. Skipper Andy Dawson will be out for up to six weeks after recently sustaining a knee injury in training, so Joe Dudgeon will retain his place in the back four. Fellow defender Paul McShane has returned to full training as he targets a first appearance of the season. The Republic of Ireland international, sidelined with a calf injury sustained during a pre-season friendly with Liverpool, is hoping for a run out with the reserves next week. Winger Martin Pusic has also returned to full training following a hamstring injury but is still several weeks away from his first league appearance.
Burnley v Southampton
Burnley will welcome back Ben Mee when they play host to Southampton. The defender was knocked out in a collision during the 2-1 defeat to Peterborough last week and, subsequently, missed the Clarets' Carling Cup victory over MK Dons after suffering from headaches. However, the 21-year-old is now in contention to reclaim his starting place against the surprise Championship leaders. Dean Marney had been complaining of a stomach problem prior to the midweek victory over the Dons but has shown no ill-effects after playing for an hour. The clash is expected to come too soon for long-serving goalkeeper Brian Jensen as he continues to recuperate from a groin strain. Martin Paterson (thigh) remains a long-term absentee, as do Michael Duff and Danny Ings (both knee).
Danny Fox returns for Southampton's trip to his former club. Fox was cup-tied for Wednesday night's Carling Cup victory over Preston and will start at left-back as Dan Harding is still out with a knee problem. Manager Nigel Adkins made 10 changes in midweek and will recall goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, along with defenders Frazer Richardson and Jose Fonte. Adam Lallana, Guly do Prado, Dean Hammond and another ex-Claret, Jack Cork, will be back in midfield having started all seven of Saints' league games this season, while top scorer Rickie Lambert and veteran David Connolly return in attack. Defenders Dan Seaborne (head) and Radhi Jaidi (knee) as well as striker Lee Barnard (ankle) are still sidelined.
Coventry City v Reading
Coventry will be without midfielder Carl Baker for the visit of Reading. Baker went for a scan on Thursday afternoon to determine the extent of the ankle injury sustained in Monday's 3-0 defeat at Ipswich, but the prognosis is not promising and he is set to be sidelined for a while. Fit-again striker Clive Platt will be included in manager Andy Thorn's squad but the game comes too soon for midfielder Gary Deegan and defender Richard Wood (both thigh), despite their return to full training. Defender James McPake misses out as he prepares to undergo a minor ankle/shin operation.
Manager Brian McDermott will leave it late to make a decision on the fitness of Jimmy Kebe as Reading prepare to travel to the Ricoh Arena. Kebe limped off before half-time in the Royals` 2-0 victory over Doncaster last weekend and did not train with the squad on Thursday. But McDermott has said he will wait as long as possible to allow the Mali winger to recover to face the Sky Blues. Defender Andy Griffin is the only other notable injury worry ahead of the meeting at the Ricoh Arena, but the full-back has returned to training and looks set to be available. However, new signing Cedric Baseya is unlikely to feature. The Frenchman only arrived at the club on Wednesday and McDermott wants him to have time familiarising himself with his new team-mates before throwing him into competitive action.
Derby County v Millwall
Goalkeeper Adam Legzdins will make his full debut for Derby when Millwall come to visit. The summer signing from Burton made his first competitive appearance for the Rams as a second-minute substitute during the 2-1 victory over East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. With England Under-21 international Frank Fielding suspended following his early red card at the City Ground, Legzdins is set to start. Nathan Tyson made his long-awaited Rams debut as a second-half substitute against his former club last weekend after recovering from a groin injury and the forward could be involved again. Theo Robinson impressed in his first league start of the season against Forest and with leading scorer Steve Davies ready to return to the starting XI after being an unused substitute at the City Ground, Clough is spoilt for options up front. Kevin Kilbane missed the Forest game with a hamstring injury he sustained in training last week. The left-sided player could be fit for Saturday but the visit of Barnsley on Tuesday night is a more likely return date.
Jay Simpson and Liam Feeney are added to the Millwall squad for the trip to Pride Park. Striker Simpson and winger Feeney were cup-tied as the Lions were thumped 5-0 in the Carling Cup at Wolves on Tuesday night. Midfielder Tamika Mkandawire was also missing at Molineux with a swollen knee and he too should be available, while goalkeeper David Forde, defender Paul Robinson and midfielder Liam Trotter are set to start after dropping to the bench. Darius Henderson is still receiving treatment on a calf problem and is unlikely to figure while fellow striker Josh McQuoid is out with a virus. Long-term absentees Therry Racon (ankle) and Shaun Batt (calf) are making progress but will not be ready by the weekend.
Doncaster Rovers v Crystal Palace
Manager Sean O'Driscoll and his assistant Richard O'Kelly have been put on gardening leave by the Championship strugglers so former Wrexham manager Dean Saunders will take charge for the home game against Crystal Palace. Jon Parkin, who has signed for Rovers on a one-month loan deal, is set to make his debut. Striker Billy Sharp and attacking midfielder Ryan Mason are back in training but not fit to return.
Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman has some selection dilemmas for the trip to the Keepmoat Stadium. Freedman made eight changes to the side beaten 1-0 by Middlesbrough in the league last weekend and his fringe players responded with a 2-1 win over the same opposition in the Carling Cup. Young winger Wilfried Zaha and forgotten striker Calvin Andrew got the goals to push their claims for a place. Julian Speroni will be back in goal, Darren Ambrose should return in midfield and winger Sean Scannell is likely to start after signing a new contract this week. Anthony Gardner and Alex Marrow returned from lay-offs in midweek so Nathaniel Clyne (foot), Lee Hills (knee), Kagisho Dikgacoi (hamstring) and Owen Garvan (hip) are the only absentees.
Middlesbrough v Ipswich Town
Leading scorer Marvin Emnes is expected to return to the Middlesbrough side for their clash with Ipswich. The striker was rested for Tuesday night's Carling Cup third round defeat at Crystal Palace but should get the chance to add to his tally of eight goals against Town. Full-back Joe Bennett is available after suspension following his sending-off in the league game at Palace last Saturday. Malaury Martin missed out in midweek through illness and his condition is being assessed, while Seb Hines (knee) and Jason Steele (fractured wrist) continue to work their way back to full fitness. However, Jonathan Franks (dislocated shoulder) could be out for up to 12 weeks after undergoing surgery.
Ibrahima Sonko faces an uphill battle to be fit for Ipswich`s trip to the Riverside Stadium. The centre-back was withdrawn after just 35 minutes of Monday`s 3-0 win over Coventry nursing a knee ligament strain but will be given as much time as possible ahead of the Teesside clash. Damien Delaney stepped in to replace Sonko and the Irishman will compete with fit-again Ivar Ingimarsson to partner Danny Collins at the heart of defence. Winger Lee Martin has now completed his three-match suspension but will also face a late check having struggled over the last couple of days with tonsillitis. Midfielder Mark Kennedy has missed the last two matches with a calf problem and is not yet ready for first-team action having suffered a setback in his recovery. Sonko`s fitness battle aside, manager Paul Jewell will be hard pushed to make changes to the XI who convincingly brushed aside Coventry to record only Town`s second win amid a string of five defeats.
Portsmouth v Blackpool
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway will be without Neal Eardley and Elliot Grandin when they travel to Fratton Park. The pair are both suffering from foot injuries, with the news coming as a particular blow for Wales international Eardley, who has only just made his recovery from surgery on a badly dislocated finger. Apart from their absence, Holloway has no new injury or suspension concerns as his side look to extend their four-match unbeaten run. The Tangerines boss is expected to make one or two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Cardiff, with Stephen Crainey and recent signings Daniel Bogdanovic and James Hurst pushing for starting berths. Left-back Crainey played 35 minutes as a substitute last week following his return from illness.
Portsmouth striker Dave Kitson is facing at least another week on the sidelines. Kitson has missed the last two matches with a rib injury and will not be available to travel to Bloomfield Road. And manager Steve Cotterill does not expect to have the former Reading frontman available for the matches against Peterborough and Leeds next week.
West Ham United v Peterborough United
James Tomkins could be fit for West Ham when they host Peterborough. The centre-half was expected to miss the game after suffering a groin injury during last weekend's goalless draw at Millwall but manager Sam Allardyce has not ruled him out yet. Winston Reid came on as a substitute at The Den and will start alongside Abdoulaye Faye, who will be making his full home debut, if Tomkins does miss out. Allardyce is otherwise expected to name an unchanged side, with Carlton Cole as the lone frontman and recent signing Sam Baldock on the bench. Fellow striker Frederic Piquionne is still suspended, midfielder Papa Bouba Diop is building up his fitness, right-back Guy is recovering from a hamstring problem and winger Gary O'Neil (ankle) is still out.
Gabriel Zakuani should retain his place in the Peterborough side at Upton Park. The Congolese defender has been nursing a toe injury in recent weeks and is receiving injections in a bid to keep him available for the trip to east London. Long-term absentee David Hibbert (knee) aside, manager Darren Ferguson has a full complement of players to choose from. Striker Emile Sinclair will hope to keep his place in the starting line up after marking his full debut with a goal in the 2-1 home win over Burnley last weekend. Ferguson has defenders Scott Wootton and Ben Gordon, midfielders Tommy Rowe and Daniel Kearns and striker Paul Taylor available should he wish to make changes. Striker Nicky Ajose has joined Scunthorpe on loan until the start of January in order to build up his match fitness after recovering from the hamstring injury he sustained on the opening day of the season.
Watford v Nottingham Forest (17:15)
Watford boss Sean Dyche has no fresh injury or suspension concerns for the visit of Nottingham Forest and could well stick with the same starting line-up for the fourth successive match. The Hornets were below par last weekend but still came away from Barnsley with a point from a 1-1 draw, extending their unbeaten sequence to four league matches. Strikers Chris Iwelumo and Joe Garner both got 45 minutes under their belts in a midweek friendly defeat to QPR and will be pushing for involvement. Garner is yet to start a first-team match since his deadline-day switch from Saturday's opponents Forest, although he has stepped off the bench in both games since his arrival. Defender Lee Hodson and midfielder Stephen McGinn (knee) continue to be the only absentees for the late kick-off.
Clint Hill is expected to make his Nottingham Forest debut at Vicarage Road. Hill, who can play at centre-half or left-back, has been brought in on a 93-day emergency loan from QPR following a serious injury to Chris Cohen. Midfielder Cohen, who has started the season as a full-back, faces around a year out after suffering knee ligament damage during the home defeat to East Midlands rivals Derby last weekend. Hill is likely to replace him in the starting XI at left-back. Cohen joins midfielders George Boateng (ankle) and Paul Anderson (hamstring) and forwards Garath McCleary and Dexter Blackstock (both knee) on the sidelines. Brendan Moloney, Lewis McGugan, Robbie Findley and Marcus Tudgay, who all came into the side for the Carling Cup defeat to Newcastle, will be hoping to have done enough in midweek to retain their places.
Sunday September 25
Cardiff City v Leicester City (13:15)
Manager Malky Mackay is likely to make wholesale changes to the Cardiff side which beat Leicester on penalties in the Carling Cup, when the same opposition return for their Championship clash. Mackay made seven alterations to his starting XI for the midweek tie, with striker Kenny Miller and defender Kevin McNaughton not even figuring among the substitutes for the Bluebirds. Both are expected to return to the starting line-up for the second meeting with the Foxes in five days, but Mackay is not without injury problems. Defender Ben Turner is unlikely to be handed his debut after picking up an impact injury during the week, while full-back Andrew Taylor came off against Leicester with a slight hamstring scare. Meanwhile, midfielder Stephen McPhail is battling a groin strain but should be fit for the fixture.
Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is expected to make wholesale changes when Leicester return to the Cardiff City Stadium. The City manager swapped 10 players as Leicester lost on penalties in the Carling Cup third round in south Wales on Wednesday night. Captain Matt Mills was the only survivor from the league victory over Brighton last Saturday. The centre-half was substituted at half-time, but Eriksson insisted it was just a precaution. Kasper Schmeichel, Lee Peltier, Sol Bamba, Paul Konchesky, Yuki Abe, Gelson Fernandes, Richie Wellens, Andy King, Darius Vassell and Jermaine Beckford dropped out of the team in midweek but the majority, if not all, are expected to be recalled.